Walt Disney Imagineering
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) is the creative force that imagines, designs and builds all Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions and cruise ships worldwide. Imagineering’s unique strength comes from its diverse global team of creative and technical professionals, who build on Disney’s legacy of storytelling to pioneer new forms of entertainment.
Founded in 1952 as WED Enterprises to design and build the world’s first theme park — Disneyland — WDI is where imagination and creativity combine with cutting-edge technology to create unforgettable experiences. The Imagineers who practice this unique blend of art and science work in more than 100 disciplines to shepherd an idea all the way from “blue sky” concept phase to opening day.
For more than 60 years, the storytellers and magic makers at WDI have dreamed up, designed and created countless themed entertainment experiences at Disney destinations across the globe. Working across a spectrum of disciplines that range from creative and conceptual to scientific and mechanical, Imagineering thrives on collaboration. Imagineers blend an innovative mixture of storytelling, art, science and technology to create innovative experiences and memorable destinations for families around the world.
Volunteerism has been integral to WDI throughout its history. From mentoring students involved in FIRST Robotics and developing a creativity lab for kids at Inner City Arts to designing children’s centers for United Service Organizations and lobbies for children’s hospitals, Imagineers volunteer thousands of hours a year for a wide range of charitable causes that support children, families, education and the environment.
More than 25 years ago, Imagineering created and has continued to sponsor Imaginations, a design competition that challenges college students to conceive a new theme park, land, restaurant, merchandise location, product or other Disney-style themed entertainment experience. This unique contest seeks out and nurtures the next generation of diverse Imagineers. Many finalists become interns and fulfill their dream of working for WDI.
WDI incorporates environmentally friendly elements into the design and construction of its projects, with stringent goals that determine how much building material should be recycled or reused. Energy- efficient LED lighting is used in many attractions, hotels and entertainment productions, and sustainable energy such as solar power is incorporated into the design of many facilities. The water featured in many attractions is often stored, treated and reused during refurbishments.
Shanghai Disney Resort uses advanced technologies to operate in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. One example is the resort’s Combined Cooling and Heating Plant (CCHP), a grid-tied, gas-fired power plant that uses excess engine heat for cooling and heating and produces compressed air by self-generated electricity. The CCHP triples the resort’s overall energy efficiency. In addition, a peripheral canal built during construction captures and stores rain and water runoff from the park to use for irrigation, and an onsite water treatment plant was designed to be environmentally friendly while meeting Disney quality standards.
WDI Research & Development has a long history of innovation in environmental science and engineering. Because water features are an important part of the Disney experience, WDI R&D has developed innovative treatment technologies to maintain water quality. The creation of a sustainable built environment also benefits from the same level of research. To improve the energy efficiency of buildings, WDI R&D developed mathematical models that link building physics with behavior of building occupants. These models can be used to provide strategic investment guidance as Imagineers work to improve energy performance.
Home of The Walt Disney Company Research Team
WDI is home to The Walt Disney Company’s research team, Disney Research, which looks for ways to use technology at Disney’s parks and resorts and across the company. Together, the best minds from 40 countries work in areas as varied as robotics, language-based interfaces, video processing and novel forms of sensing. Disney Research partners with ETH Zürich in Switzerland and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with labs co-located with those universities. Disney Research also has a facility in Los Angeles and works closely with the Pixar and ILM research groups in the San Francisco Bay Area.When Imagineers cannot find the technology they need, they invent it. Imagineering holds more than 100 patents in special effects, ride systems, interactive technology, live entertainment, fiber optics and advanced audio systems.
Imagineers have incorporated innovative techniques for construction and project management including building a Digital Immersive Show Room (DISH) to pre-visualize attractions and themed areas prior to implementation, as well as using Building Information Modeling (BIM) to create intelligent 3D models for planning, design, and construction.
Disney's Disability Services
Imagineers consider the special needs of guests when designing and building attractions and other facilities. Many attractions have vehicles that accommodate guests who use wheelchairs, and special viewing experiences are created for certain attractions to allow physically challenged guests to enjoy them. A statue of Abraham Lincoln in the lobby of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln allows visually impaired guests to imagine what the 16th president looked like by touching his face. And closed captioning with onscreen text is used in attractions such as Toy Story Mania!